Is the Light On in Your Eyes?

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I recently had an opportunity to speak for a national convention in San Diego on the topic of “Is the Light On In Your Eyes?” The conference theme was “Reflections on Success.” I started by saying many of us spend more time reflecting on what movie to watch this weekend than on what we’re going to do with the rest of our life.

Many of the audience members had been running their business for 10-30 years. Many have so many different projects and people counting on them, they feel they can’t take time off. Many work 60-70 hour weeks and haven’t taken a vacation for years. Some are ready to retire, but don’t want to do “nothing” and can’t imagine what they’re going to do NEXT that could be as satisfying and productive as what they’re currently doing. Many don’t have a succession plan in place and don’t want to see the business they worked so hard to build go down the drain.

I told them we were going to spend the next ninety minutes reflecting on what’s working, what’s not and what we’re going to do about it NOW. I shared a quiz to help them figure out in 4 minutes what’s supporting their happiness, what’s sabotaging it.

One of the options we talked about is the value of integrating our passion into our profession so our hobby it’s no longer something we never do because we’re “too busy.” Many people told me they don’t have time to do the recreational activities that used to bring them joy. I told them, they can COMBINE their recreation WITH their career in a win-win way – instead of seeing them as being mutually exclusive.

Here’s what I mean.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of sharing breakfast with Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, the largest networking organization in the world. After hearing about my full calendar of speaking, consulting and traveling, he asked, “What do you do for fun?”

Long pause. I finally dug deep and came up with “I walk my dog around the lake.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I am grateful to have the opportunity to do work that makes a positive difference … it’s just that I was going 24/7.

That conversation and several other wake-up calls motivated me to set out on a Year by the Water. I didn’t abandon my business … I just took it on the road. As James Taylor said when he took a break from touring for a year to compose new lyrics and produce a new album; “I didn’t quit work – I did a different kind of work.” .

What I’ve learned the past 18 months disrupted everything I thought I knew about what true success looks and feels like: I discovered:

* we don’t have to be torn between two worlds – we can have the best of both worlds.

* hard-work is over-rated – fun is not a four letter word

* it’s not always better to give than to receive

* people can’t jump on our bandwagon if it’s parked in the garage

* change doesn’t require courage – it requires trusting that the only way to know is to go

* to create the quality of life we deserve, we need to stop watering dead plants

* it’s not selfish to put yourself in your own story

* waiting is a prescription for regrets

* we can can combine work and recreation and leverage what we’re good at – for good

* someday is not a day in the week

* we don’t have to put aside what puts the light on in our eyes – you can integrate it into our daily life in a way that makes us even more balanced and blessed.

Want an example of what I mean?

When I lived on Maui, I had a friend named Kathy who was a 4.5 tennis player and a Realtor. We played a couple times a week until the economy slumped and she told me she was “too busy” finding clients to play tennis anymore. I suggested her hobby wasn’t an indulgence she do only when she had spare time – it was a competitive edge that could give her access to ideal clients. I suggested she approach the concierges at the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea Resort (both 5 diamond properties catering to affluent travelers – Kathy’s target demographic) and let them know they could recommend her to guests looking for a good game of singles. They eagerly did this because Kathy had lived on the island for years, was a respected member of the community, and they trusted her to make this a good experience for their resort guests.

This turned into a win for everyone. Within a month, Kathy was back to playing tennis 3-5 times a week AND had several new clients buying houses. She didn’t offend anyone with hard selling. It was natural while sharing an iced-tea after a satisfying match, guests would ask “What do you do?” When they found out she was a Realtor, they’d often ask if she had any properties for a good price. Not only was Kathy back to being outside doing a hobby that put the light on in her eyes – it became an organic marketing tool that kept her visible and became her secret sauce to success in a down market.

Want other ways to figure out how you can be creatively productive? Want to figure out how you can integrate your passion into your profession? Want to leverage your years of experience into a legacy message and mission that make a positive difference?

Check out my SerenDestiny site where I share posts on what TRUE SUCCESS looks and feels like for me and for people I had an opportunity to interview in my travels. Hope you find it inspiring and it helps you take responsibility for creating a more meaningful life now … not someday.

I am a woman on a mission to remind people the clock is ticking. Not in a morbid way, in a motivating way.

It is NOT selfish to do more of what matters to you, it is smart. Integrating what’s truly important into each day is not an indulgence; it is an investment in a healthier, happier future.

Stop waiting for the life you want. Figure out what puts the light on in your eyes and start doing it more of it NOW. You will never regret clarifying what true success means to you and integrating more of that into your life … you will only regret not doing it sooner.

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Sam Horn, Founder. CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker, helps people create quality, one-of-a-kind communications that add value for all involved. Her books – including IDEApreneur, Tongue Fu! POP!and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured on NPR and in Fast Company, INC, New York Times and presented to National Geographic, Boeing, Cisco, Capital One, NASA. Want Sam to share her keynote with your group? Contact